North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in will hold a rare meeting aimed at improving ties and easing tensions on April 27, authorities announced Thursday.
The leaders will hold talks at the Peace House in the border village of Panmunjom, a joint statement said, according to the South’s Yonhap news agency.
It will be the third summit between the two Koreas. The previous gatherings took place in the North’s capital, Pyongyang, in 2000 and 2007.
The nations agreed to discuss security and protocol for the upcoming summit at meetings next Wednesday, Yonhap reported.
South Korean presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters Thursday: “I expect that the upcoming South-North summit and the U.S. summit will leave a foundation for a permanent denuclearization and a peace regime on the Korean peninsula.”
The setting of the meeting date came after Kim said on a historic trip to China’s capital this week that he is committed to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, Chinese state media reported.
It also comes ahead of a meeting between Kim and President Trump set to take place by the end of May. It would be the first meeting between a U.S. president and a North Korean leader.
As part of that deal, North Korea agreed to suspend missiles and nuclear weapons tests and to not object publicly to joint military drills held by the U.S. and South Korea, the White House said.
The official Xinhua news agency said Kim paid an “unofficial visit” to Beijing this week and met with President Xi Jinping at the Chinese leader’s request. It was Kim’s first foreign trip since taking power in late 2011.
Kim said on his trip to Beijing that the situation on the Korean Peninsula was starting to improve after Pyongyang took the initiative to ease tensions and proposed peace talks.
“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” Kim said referring to his predecessors, according to Xinhua.
He said North Korea was determined to embark on a relationship of reconciliation and cooperation with South Korea and was willing to hold a summit with the United States.
The flurry of diplomacy comes after North Korea raised tensions last year with a series of long-range missile launches and its sixth nuclear test, resulting in strict U.S.-led international sanctions. The meetings continue a robust period of diplomatic engagement for the isolated nation, beginning with January high-level meetings with South Korea ahead of the Olympics and continuing with sending athletes and a delegation of hundreds to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
President Trump tweeted Wednesday: “For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!”
Contributing: Thomas Maresca in Seoul
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